Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thursday Night @ Great Sage

Restaurant Review: 
Great Sage

Great Sage is a vegan restaurant located in Clarksville, a wealthy community next to suburban Columbia, MD, that I've been hoping to get to since I moved to the area over 3 years ago.  From central Baltimore during weekday rush hour (with moderate traffic), it took about 45 minutes to get there.  Not super convenient, but totally worth it!  Anyway, on to the review:

Thursday nights are half-priced bottles of wine, but I chose to imbibe with a cocktail called the 'St. Rita'.  This delicious mix of tequila, St. Germain, and lemonade tasted like a slightly less sweet margarita.  Food-wise, it was much more difficult to decide!  Gluten-free items are clearly marked on the menu, and our server seemed very knowledgeable about the menu and the restaurant's cross-contamination measures (e.g. gluten free bread is prepared on a special surface). All of the day's Small Plates specials sounded amazing, but I decided to go with items I felt were unique, that I couldn't easily get elsewhere or make on my own.

The Roasted Buffalo Tempeh comes with griddled corn fritters and dijon coleslaw.  The tempeh was good, but the corn fritters and coleslaw were even better!  This dish may satisfy your 'buffalo wings' craving if you are vegan/vegetarian, but (as a current meat eater) I kept wishing the dish was spicier and crunchier.  I also tried my dining partner's (okay, okay, it was my mom) refreshing, veggie-loaded cold Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  If you order the gluten-free option, the only difference is they give you gluten free soy sauce instead of a spicy chili sauce.  It also comes with a peanut sauce for dipping, which I felt was necessary to add some flavor to this very healthy appetizer.

Here I opted for the Green Lentil And Green Chili Burger, substituting the toasted kaiser roll it normally comes with for gluten-free bread.  (I'm not sure which gf bread they use, but it's taste and texture was very similar to the Food for Life brand rice bread.)  The burger was very yummy--and filling--although it would have been too dry without the [delicious] chipotle aioli and green chili cashew 'cheese'.  The rosemary roasted potatoes that came on the side were the only disappointing item of the night: I love potatoes, but these were bland and mealy.
'Crab' Cake photo via Great Sage

The Hearts Of Palm 'crab Cake' my mom ordered was the real star of the night.  The texture and taste were eerily reminiscent of an actual crab or salmon cake!  And the quinoa-rice pilaf it sat on was simple but phenomenal.  I even enjoyed the roasted garlic caper remoulade, despite not liking capers.
Even for dessert, Great Sage offered many gluten-free options.  I was already stuffed, but as a huge caramel fan, I ordered the
Salted Caramel Taste anyway.  This is a brown sugar caramel pudding with soy whip and a gluten-free cinnamon cookie.  I don't know what the heck vegan whipped 'cream' is made out of, but it was just as good as any other whip I've had!  And if you like salted caramel, this dessert will surely hit the spot.

My mom got a scoop of homemade vegan espresso ice 'cream' (made from coconut milk) topped with house-made hot fudge.  I greatly dislike coconut, but our server said the coffee flavor masks the coconut... this was not my experience, so steer clear if you don't like coconut!  Luckily my mom loves it, and the hot fudge was great too.  Again, hard to believe these desserts didn't contain dairy!

Well, there you have it.  Despite the cold weather and long-ish drive back to the city, my mom and I left stuffed, happy, and anticipating our return!  It's a good thing I don't live closer or I'd probably spend my whole paycheck there.  Have you dined at Great Sage? Leave a comment and let us know what you liked (and didn't) about your experience!

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While you're in Clarksville, make sure to check out Great Sage's neighboor, Roots Market, which may be worth the trip itself for anyone who eats gluten-free and/or vegan.  SO. MANY. OPTIONS.  Owned by the same people as Great Sage, I can best describe Roots as the love-child of a local food co-op and Whole Foods/Trader Joe's.  Price-wise, it's a mixed bag: for example, GT's Kombucha bottles cost the same as they do at Whole Foods (the best price I've found locally), but their Amy's Rice Crust Pizza is at least $2 more than the price at Wegmans.  I don't really bat an eye at the sky-high prices anymore when I shop for groceries (hey, a girl's gotta eat), but don't say I didn't warn you!

Disclaimer: We received no perks, monetary or otherwise, from any company mentioned in this post.

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